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Associated Press
Bruce Arians became the first interim head coach to win Associated Press Coach of the Year.

Ex-Colts interim coach makes awards history

– Bruce Arians became the first interim coach to win the top NFL award from The Associated Press, taking the 2012 Coach of the Year honors for his work with the Colts.

Arians now is head coach in Arizona.

Arians took charge of the Colts in late September after head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. The Colts, 2-14 the previous season, went 9-3 under Arians and made the playoffs.

“It’s hard to put into words the feelings of this past year,” said Arians, who was hired by the Cardinals in late January. “This was kind of the cherry on the top, whipped cream and everything else you put on top.”

Pagano coached the final game of the regular season and a wild-card playoff match.

Arians earned 36 1/2 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. Pagano finished second with 5 1/2 , while Pete Carroll of Seattle received five and Leslie Frazier of Minnesota got three.

Arians spent only one season in Indianapolis before landing the Cardinals’ job.

He accepted his award at the “2nd Annual NFL Honors” awards show on CBS saluting the NFL’s best players, performances and plays from the 2012 season.

Adrian Peterson’s sensational season following major knee surgery earned him the Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards. The Minnesota Vikings running back finished with 2,019 yards, a mere nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record.

Peterson beat out Peyton Manning, who in his first season as Denver’s quarterback contended for a fifth MVP trophy. Manning’s four are a record.

Peterson received 30 1/2 MVP votes, and Manning got the remaining 19 1/2 . Peterson received 36 votes for Offensive Player of the Year, and Manning got eight.

Manning was named the Comeback Player of the Year for guiding the Broncos to the AFC’s best record after sitting out the 2011 season with a neck injury.

Manning received 31 1/2 votes, and Peterson got 17 1/2 .

Houston defensive end J.J. Watt won Defensive Player of the Year, missing a perfect ballot by one vote.

The NFL’s sacks leader with 20 1/2 , Watt earned 49 votes. Denver linebacker Von Miller received the other vote.

Washington’s Robert Griffin III beat out fellow quarterbacks Andrew Luck of the Colts and Russell Wilson of Seattle for Offensive Rookie of the Year. RG3 received 29 votes, Luck got 11 votes, and Wilson got 10.

Speaking to the media for the first time since his Jan. 9 operation to repair two ligaments in his right knee, Griffin did not show a hint of a limp Saturday.

“The knee is good. ... I’m pretty far ahead. I don’t want to scare anyone, so I’ll take it slow,” Griffin said. “My goal is Week 1.”

Griffin led the Redskins to their first NFC title in 13 years with a thrill-a-minute combination of running and passing. He rushed for 815 yards, a record for a rookie QB, and threw for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions

Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly, the league’s leader in tackles with 164, won the top defensive rookie award. He earned 28 votes, easily outdistancing Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner with 11.